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100 Years of Slalom Racing

The centenary is being marked in Mürren. The Swiss resort was the venue for the first slalom race, held on 21st January 1922.

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On that date, the British ski racing pioneer Arnold Lunn set the course for “a turning race around flags on the practice slope at Mürren”.

The winner was decided on time alone, over two runs with no marks for style.

It marked a decisive break from previous style tests and was the first modern slalom.

An early slalom race – photo © Bernhard Spörri

Earlier this week Sir Arnold Lunn’s great grandson, William Lunn, was in the resort to mark the anniversary.

He was joined by the Swiss slalom legend Erika Hess.

She is a 6 x World Champion, 4 x World Cup slalom champion and winner of 31 World Cup races.

They unveiled a memorial rock on the original practice slope beside the Allmendhubel funicular, which was opened in 1912.

Erika Hess, Rachel Arkin and Will Lunn unveiling the memorial to mark 100 years of slalom racing – photo © Mürren Tourism

More than 100 people attended, including Britain’s deputy ambassador in Bern, Bill Longhurst, members of the Lunn family and the Kandahar Ski Club which Arnold Lunn founded in Mürren in 1924 to promote the new sport.

William Lunn quoted his great grandfather’s explanation of the concept of the slalom.

“The object of a turn is to get round a given obstacle losing as little speed as possible, therefore, a fast ugly turn is better than a slow pretty turn”.

He also praised Lunn’s determined campaign for alpine racing to be accepted.

There had been opposition from Scandinavian skiers who thought the British were too cowardly to jump and too weak to langlauf.

Erika Hess, who was in  Mürren for the first time, described slalom as “the starting point for all racers and the most beautiful discipline”.

Congratulations were sent from another slalom legend, Ingemar Stenmark, as well as two Kandahar members, GB’s Dave Ryding and the Swiss skier Daniel Yule.

“Without the slalom my life in skiing would not have been,” Ryding said.

“I send my warmest wishes to the people of Mürren, the Lunn family and my fellow Kandahar members for the 100th Birthday of slalom skiing.”

The ceremony was followed by a re-enactment of the slalom on the original slope with period costume, equipment and technique on display.

Commemorating 100 years of slalom racing – photo © Mürren Tourism

Bernie Lunn skiing to commemorate 100 years of slalom racing – photo © Mürren Tourism

Commemorating 100 years of slalom racing – photo © Mürren Tourism

Erika Hess Commemorating 100 years of slalom racing – photo © Mürren Tourism

The commemoration came at the start of Mürren’s annual Inferno racing week, which culminates on Saturday 22nd January with the 78th Inferno downhill, the world’s longest downhill race.

The Inferno was started in 1928 by Arnold Lunn and 17 Kandahar members over a marathon course from the Schilthorn at 2970m altitude to Lauterbrunnen  at 800m.

1850 amateur ski racers make the annual pilgrimage to take part.

MAIN PHOTO:  ©  Mürren Tourism

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